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Ramen

Ramen

Developing a ramen recipe—and more specifically, a worthy broth—has been the most fun I've had in the kitchen in a while. Nothing makes me feel more like a Korean mom than boiling a vat of bones, fats, and aromatics, hand on hip, larger-than-life wooden spoon at the ready (in case of an undutiful child). What I love most about ramen, though, is that it inherently calls for inauthenticity. Historically, anyway, in Japan it was immigrant food—Chinese by origin and eaten out, not in. In this vein, my tangle of beef shank, pork belly, and, unabashedly, Better Than Bouillon chicken base, nods to Tokyo and Canton, but borrows from a Seoulful palate, à la galbi tang, samgyetang, and those plastic cup noodles that got me through college.

Broth:
6 cups cold water*
3 tablespoons Better Than Bouillon chicken base*
1 pound bone-in beef shank
1 pound pork belly
4 cloves garlic
1/2 onion, skin-on
2 inches ginger, cut into medallions
3 bay leaves
Handful dried shiitake mushrooms
Soy sauce, to taste

Ramen:
2 eggs
4 packages ramen noodles, preferably fresh
2 bunches baby bok choy
Chives, for garnish

*or 6 cups chicken stock

Bring the water, chicken base, beef shank, pork belly, garlic, onion, ginger, bay leaves, and mushrooms to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for an hour and a half. Strain and skim fat (I like to refrigerate overnight, then spoon off the hardened fat on top). Season with soy sauce to taste. Reserve the beef shank and pork belly, obviously (everything else can go).

Boil the eggs for 6 minutes exactly. I'm the absolute WORST at peeling eggs, but I find that it helps first to add a touch of baking soda and vinegar to the water as they cook, then to let them sit in cold water for a few minutes before attempting to peel (bottoms first, always).

To assemble the ramen, boil the noodles according to package instructions. Drain and transfer to a soup bowl. Top with a slice or two of the reserved pork belly (and some of the beef shank, if there's any meat on there), an egg half (which should be golden-oozy), some bok choy (torn into bite-sized pieces), and 2 chives (crisscrossed to ward off demons). Spoon over the hot broth and serve immediately.

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